Best of 2016- Eight of My Favorite Wildlife Photos from 2016

December 31, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

ProwlerProwlerSubject- Bobcat

Image is copyrighted and cannot be used for any reason without expressed written consent by Steve Hinch

Prowler  |  Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming  |  January 2016


So with 2016 at an end and my eight favorite landscape images from this year already posted, here's a final post of the year showing my eight favorite wildlife photos for the year.  My first photo shown above, Prowler, could also be my favorite image of the entire year.  Bobcats are elusive in Yellowstone and having the opportunity to photograph one is a rare treat.  I can count the number of bobcats I've photographed in the Yellowstone ecosystem over the past 12 years on one hand.  This bobcat had cached a meal under a boardwalk and returned for it.  Obviously it's one of my favorite images because it's a bobcat photo, but I chose this one because of the strong pose, nice light, and eye contact.  Once it finished eating and then cleaning, the cat made it's way off again, which is the moment when I captured this photo. 

Badlands DrifterBadlands DrifterSubject- Bobcat

Image is copyrighted and cannot be used for any reason without expressed written consent by Steve Hinch

Badlands Drifter  |  Badlands National Park, South Dakota  |  April 2016


If the first photo isn't my favorite for the year, then it's because my this one, Badlands Drifter, is number one.  I watched this bobcat for several hours as it lay patiently waiting for a prairie dog to pop up from a hole.  I was impressed by the cat's patience.  It barely moved, stayed awake, mostly, and waited for the meal that never came.  Finally, as the sun rose higher into the morning sky, the cat decided it was time to move on and that's when I captured this image.  Again, it's one of my favorites because of the subject matter, strong pose, light, and eye contact.  It's also an encounter that I will long remember. 

Mother's DayMother's DaySubject- Nursing Bison Calf

Image is copyrighted and cannot be used for any reason without expressed written consent by Steve Hinch

Mother's Day  |  Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming  |  May 2016


One question I'm asked often is how to I meter the exposure when I shoot.  Metering is the process of getting the right exposure using either the light meter in the camera or a handheld light meter.  In-camera light meters are very good today, so I'm not sure anyone uses handheld ones anymore and I don't.  My quick answer is that I expose the scene for the subject, in this case the baby bison, and let the rest of the scene expose where it may.  In this case, the small background of dried grasses was over exposed, but it didn't matter since it was a tiny area and the calf was exposed correctly.  This image was one of my favorites because of the intimacy between the calf and it's mother, even though the mother's presence is an implied one, since only a small portion of her is visible in this image. 

Three DaysThree DaysSubject- Burrowing Owl

Image is copyrighted and cannot be used for any reason without expressed written consent by Steve Hinch

Three Days  |  Badlands National Park, South Dakota  |  June 2016


Three Days, that's how long it took for me to get an acceptable image of a burrowing owl.  But was I ever happy with the photo!  I was out every morning and evening trying to get a decent photo of these little owls.  They move quickly as they hunt in the grass for insects, flying about, just above the ground, eventually landing back at their burrow.  I finally decided to take my lens off the tripod, using a fast enough shutter speed to hand hold the heavy lens and camera.  It paid off with this photo as I was able to react quickly as the owl came in and landed on a small perch near to where I was located.  Three days of effort and well worth it!

Meadow in the MistMeadow in the MistSubject- Bull Herd

Image is copyrighted and cannot be used for any reason without expressed written consent by Steve Hinch

Meadow in the Mist  |  Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming  |  September 2016


Meadow in the Mist is one of those photos that you hope will come out nice but at the moment you take it you can't be sure.  Why?  Because it was so foggy and getting the exposure correct was vital in coming away with an acceptable image.  Heavy fog will often cause the camera to underexpose the scene, so it's important to overexpose when faced with a situation such as this one.  There are a few things I wish were a bit different in this image, so as better separation among a few of the elk, especially the bull, but otherwise, the fog and autumn colors made this one a favorite for me this year.

StealthStealthSubject- Great Grey Owl

Image is copyrighted and cannot be used for any reason without expressed written consent by Steve Hinch

Stealth  |  Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming  |  October 2016


Great grey owls are one of those birds that is often on the list of many wildlife watchers who come to Yellowstone.  They're a rare treat even for those of us who call the area home.  I positioned myself to photograph this owl, hoping it would launch towards me, but honestly, the angle at which it dropped off it's perch ended up being better than what I had planned.  Of course, the outstanding early morning light and deep shadow of the forest made this one perhaps my all time favorite great grey photo.

Turtle SurferTurtle SurferSubject- Green Sea Turtle
Location- Kauai, Hawaii

Image is copyrighted and cannot be used for any reason without expressed written consent by Steve Hinch

Turtle Surfer  |  Kauai, Hawaii  |  November 2016


We were fortunate to make a trip to Kauai this November.  I had three animals I really hoped to photograph while there.  One was the Hawaiian Nene, a rare wild goose.  Another is photographed below.  And the third was the green sea turtle.  I love underwater photography though I'm not great at it, but I had hoped to photograph the turtles underwater.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't on my side for this trip as high surf warnings made snorkeling very difficult, if not dangerous.  But I did find a small cove where about ten turtles would come and feed each day.  At times they would be ten feet away or so from where I stood on the rocks above.  This turtle surfaced for air just as a large wave rolled into the cove.  The surfacing turtle against the clear blue water made for one of my favorites from the trip.

Under a Golden SunUnder a Golden SunSubject- Hawaiian Monk Seal
Location- Kauai, Hawaii

Image is copyrighted and cannot be used for any reason without expressed written consent by Steve Hinch

Under a Golden Sun  |  Kauai, Hawaii  |  November 2016


Above I mentioned that I hoped to photograph a rare wild goose, green sea turtles, and one of these, the Hawaiian monk seal, while on our trip to Kauai.  Honestly, the one I thought I'd have the least chance with was the Hawaiian monk seal, given their low numbers.  We checked the beach each morning at breakfast to see if any had hauled out to rest but each day we struck out.  On our last day, we grabbed breakfast at Starbucks and went down to the beach again to enjoy our meal and coffee.  As we sat down, I saw something laying at the water's edge and instantly new we finally had our seal!  I'm not sure if this photo or the bobcat photo, Badlands Drifter, would be my photo of the year, but it's close.  I see and photograph such a rare animal is truly a blessing and I'll always be happy for the opportunity.  And on that note, I hope only the best for everyone in the New Year!


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